Allen Grossman, born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, received his MA from Harvard (1956) and his Ph.D. from Brandeis University (1960). His first collection of poetry, A Harlot’s Hire, was published in 1959. Of his work, poet and critic J.D. McClatchy remarks: “His is the austere inward gaze, and the oracular voice of the prophet and seer.” Some of his other works of poetry include The Woman on the Bridge over the Chicago River (1982), The Brightest Nails Scattered on the Ground (1986), The Ether Dome and Other Poems New and Selected (1991), How to do Things with Tears (2001), and his most recent work Descartes’ Loneliness (2007). Grossman is the recipient of three Pushcart Prizes (1975, 1987, 1990), a Guggenheim Fellowship (1982), and a Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts (1985). He was awarded the Sara Teasdale Memorial Prize in Poetry in 1987, and received the Sheaffer-PEN/New England Award for Literary Distinction in 1988. He was honored with the MacArthur Fellowship in 1989, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences Fellowship in 1993. His poetry collection The Ether Dome was nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award in 1992.
Also loved as a devoted educator, Grossman has taught as the Paul E. Prosswimmer Professor of Poetry and General Education at Brandeis University, and as a visiting professor in the Universitat HaNegev in Beersheba, Israel. In 1987, he was the CASE Massachusetts State Professor of the Year and National Gold Medalist. In 1991, Grossman became the Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the Humanities at The Johns Hopkins University, and from this position he retired in 2005.